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Published on: May 1, 2013
by Bradley J. Fikes for UT San Diegeo:
If there’s a fountain of youth, or at least a switch to delay aging, it might be in the hypothalamus. A study in the journal Nature found that in mice, the hypothalamus contains mechanisms that control aging.
Researchers led by Dongsheng Cai of Albert Einstein College of Medicine found that a signalling pathway related to immunity, called nuclear factor kB, or NF-kB, can speed up or slow aging. The study says the findings could possibly be applied for developing treatments for aging-related diseases in people.
The study is “interesting and provocative,” said Costantino Iadecola, director of the Brain and Mind Research Institute at Weill Cornell Medical College. The idea that such a small region of the brain influences aging throughout the whole body has great implications, he said by email.
“The study identifies specific molecular pathways through which crosstalk between cells of the immune system and neurons in this regions regulates processes as diverse as muscle aging, connective tissue compliance and cognitive performance,” he wrote. “Most importantly, suppressing such signaling is able to prolong rodent life span.
“The involvement of the gonadotropin releasing hormone in preventing age-related cognitive decline is of great interest not only for its relation to brain longevity, but also as a potential intervention to protect the aging brain from Alzheimer’s diseases and other forms of age-related cognitive decline,” Iadecola said. “Although the effector molecules of these body-wide actions and their relevance to human aging remain to be established – and it would be important to do so – the study opens a new chapter on the biology of aging which may provide much needed insight into highly prevalent and debilitating age-related disorders.”
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